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T HE L YNDON B AINES J OHNSON R OOM
Transcript
  • THE LYNDON BAINESJOHNSON ROOM

  • Prepared under the direction of the Secretary of the Senateby the Office of Senate Curator

  • THE LYNDON BAINESJOHNSON ROOM

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 1

    Historical Highlights

    The Lyndon Baines Johnson Room (S–211) is located in the north-east corner of the United States Capitol, part of the 1851–1859Senate extension designed by Thomas U. Walter. The House andSenate extensions more than doubled the amount of space in theCapitol and helped address the needs of a growing country. Alsoincluded in the north addition were the new Senate Chamber, thePresident’s Room, the Senate Reception Room, as well as numerouscommittee rooms.

    Although S–211 was originally intended for the Senate Library, thefirst recorded tenant was the Senate Post Office, which occupiedthe room until 1884. The follow-ing year, the Senate Committee onthe District of Columbia, chairedby Senator John J. Ingalls(R–Kansas), was assigned thespace. The committee continuedto use the room through 1958.

    An important piece of historyoccurred in the room at the turnof this century, during the chair-manship of Ingalls’ successor, Sen-ator James McMillan (R–Michi-gan). Realizing that development James McMillan

  • 2 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

    in Washington had become haphazard, McMillan persuaded hiscolleagues to establish the Senate Park Commission in 1901. Thiscommission, whose members included some of the most prominentarchitects and artists of the day, developed a strategy to bring theFederal City into closer harmony with Pierre Charles L’Enfant’soriginal vision. The commission’s work had a profound effect onthe modern development of Washington, as well as on the “citybeautiful” movement throughout the country.

    When unveiled in 1902, the “McMillan Plan” justified its sponsor’sefforts. It proposed a well-organized design for the city, centered

    Room S–211, Senate Committee on the District of Columbia, ca. 1900

  • around green parks, recreation areas, and grand public edifices. Ithalted the indiscriminate construction of a railroad terminal on theMall, and proposed that the area be planted in grass and lined withmuseums and government buildings. Union Station, the LincolnMemorial, and the Cannon and Russell congressional office build-ings all owe their existence to the McMillan Plan. The plan was sosuccessful that many cities used it as a model for their own urbanrenewal projects.

    Early in 1959 Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson movedhis leadership office from the third floor of the Senate wing torooms S–211 and S–212. Johnson kept these rooms when hebecame vice president in 1961 and remained there until heascended to the presidency in 1963. Former staff members recallthat of all the offices assigned to Johnson during his 1961–1963tenure, room S–211 was by far his favorite.

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 3

    Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Baines Johnson in S–211, the Majority Leader’s suite,March 15, 1960

  • The Majority Leader’s office took over the room in 1965, andsince that time it has been used for meetings, press conferences,committee meetings, party caucuses, and congressional receptions.In 1987, S–211 was assigned to the Secretary of the Senate.

    Beginning in 1987 the LBJ Room (as it had come to be known)underwent redecoration in order to recreate a 19th century appear-ance. The walls were repainted and marbleized, new curtainsinstalled, traditional cast-iron urns purchased, and period windowcornices and an overmantle mirror were moved to the room fromother areas of the Senate.

    4 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

    The Lyndon Baines Johnson Room

  • Art Highlights

    Early plans called for the Lyndon B. Johnson Room to accommo-date the Senate Library, and in 1857 Italian artist Constantino Brumidi designed an elaborate fresco ceiling to reflect appropriatethemes—allegorical representations he entitled History, Geography,Print, and Philosophy. Brumidi finished the lunette of History andone corner group in the room, but was then assigned work else-where in the extension. He did not return to the room until severalyears later. By that time, the space had become the Senate PostOffice, and its anticipated use as a library was never realized. Con-sequently, Brumidi changed his original subjects, replacing the fig-ures of Print and Philosophy with allegorical scenes of Physics andTelegraph. He completed the ceiling in 1867.

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 5

    Original design for ceiling of Senate Library by Constantino Brumidi, ca. 1857

  • Born and trained in Rome,Constantino Brumidi lefthis native city after beingimprisoned for his role inthe Revolution of 1848.Arriving in the UnitedStates in 1852, he soughtto employ his considerabletalents in decorating pub-lic buildings. U.S. ArmyCaptain Montgomery C.Meigs, then serving assuperintendent of the pro-ject to enlarge the Capitol,hired Brumidi in 1855 todecorate the new Capitolextensions.

    During the next 25 yearsBrumidi continued as theprimary decorator of theinterior of the Senate wing and the great Rotunda. For this accomplishment, Brumidi hasbeen called the “Michelangelo of the United States Capitol.” Heoften painted in true fresco, with the pigment painted directly onwet plaster. The chemical change that takes place as the plasterdries makes the pigment an integral part of the plaster. The resultis a stable, permanent mural that, like the frescos of Pompeii, canlast for millennia.

    The figure representing History sits draped in colorful robes with alaurel wreath on her head. Quill pen in hand, she records the storyof the Revolutionary War, which can be seen raging in the back-ground. To History’s right lie the tools of her trade: an inkpot andquills, a box of scrolls, a framed picture, and a printing press. Sherests her book against the wings of Father Time, a figure with ori-gins in Greek and Roman mythology, who sits to her left with anhour-glass and scythe. Although Father Time is only the assistant in

    6 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

    Constantino Brumidi, photograph taken by MathewBrady, ca. 1860

  • this case, in other instances he is depicted recording the feats ofheroes in a book much like History’s. Behind him a chipped stonepedestal suggests the passage of time.

    The lunette entitled Telegraph is Brumidi’s symbolic treatment ofthe transatlantic cable, the first electric communications linkbetween Europe and America. Completed in 1866, the cable waslaid on the ocean floor between Ireland and Newfoundland, andwas considered the major technological marvel of its day. In Brumidi’s fresco, Europa approaches America across the water.Europa rides a bull, Jupiter in disguise, and clasps America’s handin friendship and communication. America wears a phrygian, orliberty, cap wreathed in the oak leaves of strength. She carries acaduceus (symbol of commerce) and is accompanied by an eaglebearing an olive branch of peace. A cornucopia, symbolizingplenty, rests to one side, while a cherub carries the cable linkingthe two continents.

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 7

    Fresco of History by Constantino Brumidi

  • Before beginning his frescoes, Brumidi usually created small-scalecolor sketches in oil. Following approval, he began the actualpainting using the preparatory sketch as a reference, changing onlyminor details.

    8 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

    Oil sketch for Telegraph, ca. 1862

    Fresco of Telegraph by Constantino Brumidi

  • Physics pays tribute to science and its many practical applications,particularly in regard to the development of new forms of trans-portation. A locomotive and a steamboat, both in motion, figureprominently in this scene. Wearing a cape bordered with stars,Physics rests one arm on a pedestal while a young boy in a sailorsuit gestures toward a chart laid out before them. A plane table,which is used to determine survey lines, stands at their feet. To theright sits a blacksmith, meant to represent Vulcan, god of the forge,with an anvil, a hammer, and a pair of newly wrought iron wheelsbeside him.

    Unlike History, Telegraph, and Physics, which are staged on theearth’s surface, Geography looks out over the world from a perchhigh above the clouds, where she can view the continents in theirtotality. She wears a brocaded skirt and flowing headdress andmeasures distances on her globe with a pair of dividers. Geographyis flanked by two winged helpers, one carrying a small train engineand a protractor and the other gesturing towards a map of theNew World.

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 9

    Fresco of Physics by Constantino Brumidi

  • Along with the four lunettes, Brumidi employed the Three Gracesas corner motifs. The walls are painted in the trompe l’oeil style togive the impression of carved reliefs and panels. A narrow friezewith a cornucopia theme bands the room.

    10 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

    Corner figure groups by Constantino Brumidi

    Fresco of Geography by Constantino Brumidi

  • THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 11

    Decorative Arts

    In addition to the frescomurals, original details of theroom include the marblemantel, designed by ThomasU. Walter, and the Mintonfloor tiles. These encaustictiles were manufactured atStoke-upon-Trent in Stafford-shire, England by Minton,Hollins and Company. Thecolors in encaustic tile (unlikethose in ordinary tile, whichare simply painted glazes)come from colored claysimbedded in the tile itself.They were designed specifi-cally for the Capitol and were

    installed throughout the building from 1856 to 1859. Minton tilesare also located in the Houses of Parliament in England and at theSmithsonian Arts and Industries building on the National Mall.The carved, gilded mirror and window valences date to the late19th century.

    The room’s elaborate crystal chandelier has been the subject ofmuch interest, as well as a polite tug-of-war between the executiveand legislative branches. The chandelier is believed to have beenpurchased for the White House during President Grant’s adminis-tration. It was removed by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 and sent tothe Capitol where, for many years, it hung in S–211. Lyndon John-son had it moved to the Senate connecting corridor in 1958. Sev-eral years later, the fixture was loaned to the White House forplacement in the Treaty Room. Amid much publicity—and withsome White House reluctance—the chandelier was returned to theCapitol in 1977 and reinstalled in S–211.

  • 12 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

    Nineteenth-Century Engravings

    On the east wall of the room are four hand-colored engravings ofWashington from the 1830s. One is by H. Brown, while the otherthree images are from American Scenery, illustrated by Britishartist William H. Bartlett. Bartlett came to the United States ontwo separate occasions between 1836 and 1838, travelling alongthe east coast and recording his impressions. In all, Bartlettsketched 115 scenes from nature—primarily romantic views thatemphasized the untamed American landscape. His engravings ofthe Capitol are less typical of his work, as they depict the man-made environment. Here, by subtly exaggerating the height of theCapitol dome, Bartlett showed how the building truly dominatedthe Washington skyline. Numerous printmakers later copiedBartlett’s views of the early Capitol.

    “View of the Capitol at Washington,” William H. Bartlett, 1837

  • Fine Arts

    JOHN ADAMS(1735–1826)

    by Eliphalet FrazerAndrews (1835–1915)

    The first vice presidentand second presidentof the United States,John Adams was bornin Braintree, Massa-chusetts. A strong sup-porter of Americanindependence, Adamswas elected as a Mass-achusetts delegate tothe First Continental

    Congress in 1774. He accepted various appointments in Europebetween 1778 and 1788, including Minister to England. After serving as vice president under George Washington, Adams washimself elected president in 1796.

    Division of opinion within his cabinet over United States-Frenchrelations characterized Adams’ presidency. Vice President ThomasJefferson and his supporters sympathized with France, while theopposition, led by Alexander Hamilton, favored military actionagainst the French. Adams undertook a successful peace commis-sion, avoided war, and preserved United States neutrality, but at apersonal cost. Alienated from much of his own party, Adams losthis reelection bid against Thomas Jefferson in the election of 1800.

    The Senate’s oil portrait of John Adams by Eliphalet F. Andrewsis a reversed-image copy of the 1860 George P.A. Healy worknow owned by the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.Healy’s painting, in turn, was based on Gilbert Stuart’s 1815 lifeportrait that hung for many years at the Adams homestead inQuincy, Massachusetts. The Stuart picture is now in the collec-

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 13

  • tion of the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. TheAndrews version was purchased for the Capitol directly from theartist around 1881. Andrews was a successful portraitist in thelate nineteenth century who supplied several government agen-cies with images of famous Americans. Born in Ohio, he trainedat the Dusseldorf Academy in Germany and with Leon Bonnat inParis. In Washington, he initiated the art instruction program atthe Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1877, and served as the artschool’s director from 1887 until 1902. Andrews’ portraits of six presidents and of Martha Washington are found in the WhiteHouse collection.

    THOMAS JEFFERSON (1743–1826)

    by Thomas Sully (1783–1872)

    Thomas Jefferson, second vice president and third president of theUnited States, was born in Goochland County, Virginia. Educatedat the College of William and Mary, Jefferson served in the Houseof Burgesses from 1769 until 1775. A member of the ContinentalCongress, he was on the committee charged with drafting a decla-

    ration of independence.Although assisted byJohn Adams, BenjaminFranklin, and others, Jef-ferson is considered theprincipal author of thedocument.

    After his work inPhiladelphia, Jeffersonreturned to Virginia toserve in the state legisla-ture and then as governor.Jefferson was GeorgeWashington’s first secre-tary of state, and he ranfor the presidency himselfin 1796. Because he fin-

    14 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

  • ished second to John Adams, by the election rules of the day Jeffer-son automatically became vice president. In 1800 he ran againstAaron Burr for the presidency; they both received the same numberof electoral votes, and the House of Representatives broke the tie bychoosing Jefferson.

    During his first administration, Thomas Jefferson doubled the size ofthe United States’ territory through the Louisiana Purchase. Reelectedtriumphantly in 1804, Jefferson’s second term was marked by a com-mitment to peaceful diplomacy and economic pressure to maintainAmerican rights. He retired to his rural Virginia home, Monticello,in 1809. There he championed higher education, founded the Uni-versity of Virginia, and pursued wide-ranging interests in the arts andsciences. Jefferson is considered one of the most versatile men of hisage, one much respected for his significant contributions to politicalstatesmanship and philosophy.

    In 1821 American artist Thomas Sully traveled to Monticello tocapture a likeness of Jefferson for the United States Military Acad-emy at West Point. There, he made a half-length study of the for-mer president, although he did not finish the painting until 1830.

    This half-length view is considered the finest portrayal of Jefferson inhis later years, and Sully made several copies of it. Historians believethat the first such copy, made in 1856, is the one now exhibited in theU.S. Capitol. The work was purchased by Congress from the artist’sgrandson in 1873 for $200. Sully’s likenesses of Jefferson becamestandard, and many later artists and engravers replicated them.

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 15

  • LYNDON B. JOHNSON(1908–1973)

    by Norman Rockwell(1894–1978)

    Born on a farm nearStonewall, Texas, LyndonBaines Johnson was a rep-resentative and senatorfrom his home state beforebecoming vice presidentand president of theUnited States. Previous toentering politics, Johnsonwas a high school teacher,

    an aide to a member of Congress, and state director of theNational Youth Administration of Texas.

    In 1937 Johnson won a special election held to fill a vacancy in theU.S. House of Representatives, and was subsequently reelected fivetimes, serving in the House until his 1948 election to the Senate.

    Johnson’s legislative skills were recognized almost immediately, andhe became Democratic whip in 1951 and his party leader in 1953.Although he lost his bid for the nomination as Democratic candidatefor president in 1960, he accepted John F. Kennedy’s offer to run asvice president. Elected vice president on November 8, 1960, Johnsonbecame chairman of the National Aeronautics and Space Counciland the President’s Committee on Equal Employment Opportunities.

    On November 22, 1963 Johnson assumed the presidency followingthe assassination of John Kennedy. Committed to carrying forth thelate president’s programs, Johnson actively supported passage of asweeping civil rights act in Congress. He outlined an extensive pro-gram of economic and social welfare legislation, designed to fightpoverty and to create what he called “The Great Society.” Electedpresident in his own right in 1964, Johnson pushed more major leg-islation through Congress than had been passed at any time since the

    16 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

  • New Deal. Domestic achievements, however, were soon overshad-owed in the public mind by America’s role in the Vietnam War.Johnson did not seek reelection in 1968, and he retired to his ranchnear Austin, Texas, where he died on January 22, 1973.

    Today, Norman Rockwell is best known for his portrayals of Amer-icana on the covers of the Saturday Evening Post. Throughout hislong career, however, Rockwell also supplied artwork for a numberof other periodicals. In 1964 he painted this portrait of Johnson forLook magazine. After sketching the president in the White House,Rockwell finished the portrait in his Stockbridge, Massachusettsstudio. In 1967 Johnson rejected his official White House portraitby artist Peter Hurd, and offered a reproduction of the Rockwellportrait to show Hurd what he considered a good likeness.Although Norman Rockwell was lightly regarded by art critics (wholabeled him an illustrator, not an artist), his popular followingremained immense throughout his life. In 1977 President Gerald R.Ford presented Rockwell with the Presidential Medal of Freedom,the nation’s highest peacetime award.

    This painting is on loan from the Lyndon B. Johnson Library andMuseum in Austin, Texas.

    THE LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON ROOM 17

  • Room Assignments: 1859 to Present

    Room # Date Occupant

    none 1859–1874 Post Office

    31 1874–1885 Post Office

    31 1885–1906 Committee on the District of Columbia

    38 1906–1947 Committee on the District of Columbia

    38 1947–1948 Committee on the District of Columbia(suite included S–212)

    P–38 1948–1958 Committee on the District of Columbia(suite included S–212)

    P–38 1959–1961 Majority Leader (Lyndon B. Johnson)(suite included S–212)

    Lyndon B. Johnson elected to the vice presidency in November 1960.

    P–38 1961–1965 Office of the Vice President(suite included S–212)

    S–211 1965–1987 Majority Leader(suite included S–208, S–209, & S–210)

    Designation of S–211 as the “Lyndon Baines Johnson Room”S. Res. 80, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981.

    S–211 1987–Present Secretary of the Senate(administers use of the room)

    18 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

  • Photographs courtesy of:

    Architect of the Capitol: 2, 7, 8 (top), 9, 10Library of Congress: 5, 6Lyndon B. Johnson Library: 16Mr. Frank Muto: 3U.S. Senate Historical Office: 1

    20 THE UNITED STATES SENATE

  • S. Pub. 105–60


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